If you are looking for a special occasion dish to impress your guests or to shine at the potluck, this is it. I have had this recipe for years and have brought it to two different parties — where it was adored and devoured. Another (inadvertent) accolade came from my teenager, who chose pizza over the tart, saying it ‘had too many flavors.’ One note, however. Don’t let anyone call this a quiche. Although quiches have their place, this is a whipped cream and ricotta cheese tart with a polenta crust. It’s much more than a quiche.
Snow has been flirting with Portland since November 1. I hope that’s a sign of things to come. We had another inch or two of snow the day I made this — a good day to simmer thick polenta, roast garlic, caramelize onions, and let the tart bake slowly. Leave yourself with an afternoon to pull this together. You can also take the incremental approach — my way of attacking most multi-step tasks in my life. Roast the garlic the day before, and make the polenta crust. Then saute onions, and finish up the custard the next day.
Roasted Garlic Cheese Round
3 cups water
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup polenta
1 T butter
thyme, oregano, basil, salt and pepper (use according to taste)
1 1/2 chopped sweet onions
1-2 T butter
1 8-oz package cream cheese
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 head garlic, roasted (see note)
1. Butter a 10-inch springform pan. Bring water to a boil, and stir in salt. Stream polenta into water and whisk until mixture thickens, around 3-5 minutes. Lower heat to a low simmer, add butter and spices, and put a lid on it. Keep a close eye on it as you stir every 5 minutes for about 20 minutes. When it pulls away from the sides of the pan and the grains have softened, pour it into the springform. Smooth the crust and let sit.
2. For the filling, saute onions in butter over low heat, stirring until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cool, and set aside.
3. Preheat oven to 350°. With an electric mixer (not a processor or blender), beat together the cream and ricotta cheeses, salt and cayenne. Beat in roasted garlic and onions. Beat in eggs one at a time.
4. Pour mixture on top of polenta crust, and bake one hour. Turn off heat, and let sit in oven for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit one hour so the custard sets.
5. Serve warm or room temperature with tomato sauce.
- To roast garlic, slice the top off a head of garlic. Just lop off the very top. Remove some of the papery skins. Brush the tops with olive oil and some salt. Cover in foil or place in a garlic baker and roast in the oven at 350° for about an hour.
- Tomato sauce pairs well with the polenta. Make your own or use jarred.
- Polenta takes some time but you don’t need to stir constantly for 20 minutes. Make sure your heat source is low and that the polenta doesn’t start sticking to the bottom of the pan. Once it has thickened, you can cover it and stir every five minutes. Use the 20 minute cooking period to spice up the polenta. Add more spices, pesto or a dollop of butter to the simmering polenta.